Questions continue to be asked about punishment law

Almost every day I get questions from people who want to know when the provisional pardon for the punishment law will go into effect. The reality is that the government has not yet announced a date. As soon as it is announced, I will inform you immediately.

This week in my column in La OpiniónI answer questions from readers who want to know about the status of an I-130 petition and the proposed interim changes to the penalty law. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Each case is different, so you should consult with an attorney for personalized legal advice.

I am Guatemalan and my brother is a U.S. citizen. He filed the I-130 petition for me in April 2001 and we were approved. I am married and my husband is also undocumented. We have lived in the U.S. since 1999 and we have 2 children born here. When will a visa be available for me? Will my husband be able to obtain permanent residency with me? - Nina V.

The application your brother filed for you is under the F4 category that benefits siblings of U.S. citizens. According to the October 2012 Visa Bulletin, the U.S. Department of State is processing cases of Guatemalans in that category with a priority date before March 15, 2001. These dates sometimes change. You should monitor the Visa Bulletin by going to the Department of State website to see how your case is going. (To view it, click here)

Your husband may be eligible to apply for permanent residence with you if he meets the requirements. Each of you will have to submit adjustment of status applications and demonstrate that you are admissible to the country. For example, you will have to show that you are of good moral character and that you will not be an economic burden to the U.S. It is very important that you consult with an immigration attorney before you begin the process.

When does the new law of forgiveness take effect to the law of punishment? - Yaneth G.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not yet set a date for the regulations that would provide a temporary waiver of the punishment law to go into effect. The public scrutiny period has ended. USCIS continues to evaluate all comments - for and against the proposal - and will publish the final statute. It is not known how much longer that process will take. In the meantime, do not submit any applications requesting this benefit because they will be rejected.

The new proposal would only cover immediate relatives - parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 - of qualifying U.S. citizens. Consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal options.